HOUSTON — Tony Finau needs to finish his huge yr in an enormous means, and he took a step Thursday by biding his time and delivering late birdies for a 5-under 65 that gave him a share of the lead within the Houston Open.
Finau used a 60-foot birdie putt on the par-3 second gap, his eleventh of the spherical, to start out a stretch of 4 birdies in 5 holes.
He was tied for the lead with bogey-free Aaron Clever and Alex Noren of Sweden, who might use an enormous week in Houston to nail down a spot within the high 50 on the planet as he tries to get a Masters invitation.
Tyson Alexander additionally was at 5 below and drove into the left tough when the primary spherical was suspended due to darkness. Alexander selected to not end his spherical and can end the 18th on Friday morning earlier than beginning his second spherical.
The big group at 66 included Sanderson Farms winner Mackenzie Hughes of Canada and Keith Mitchell, who was poised to take the lead till his second shot into the par-5 sixteenth went into the water and led to bogey.
Finau gained consecutive begins this summer time in Minnesota and Detroit for his first season of a number of wins. He missed the reduce final week in Mayakoba and wasn’t faring too nicely at Memorial Park, besides that he knew the course was demanding from tee to inexperienced.
“I knew the golf course — it is a powerful golf course to play,” Finau mentioned. “It’s important to drive it within the fairway, and your work’s not finished. It is arduous to hit the greens. You recognize in case you miss the inexperienced, it is arduous to rise up and down, so I used to be simply affected person with myself.
“I made a pair bombs, I believe that form of opened it up.”
The largest one was on No. 2, and with a breeze at his again, he had no bother including one other birdie on the par-5 third. He hit a wedge to 4 toes on No. 5 after which holed a birdie putt from 12 toes on the following gap.
Finau additionally completed with a bang, rolling in a 35-foot putt on the par-3 ninth.
His huge summer time has Finau at No. 15 on the planet rating, courtesy of his huge run via late July and early August. The tour has two tournaments left this yr earlier than resuming the season at Kapalua the primary week of January.
“The season that I’ve had this previous season was very good, however I wish to exit in a great way and I wish to end the yr robust,” Finau mentioned. “And I believe that is what I am searching for this week.”
The highest 50 on the planet on the finish of the yr sometimes get Masters invites, and Noren put himself into the combination with a runner-up end within the Dunhill Hyperlinks in Scotland. He got here into the Houston Open at No. 50 and knew he had his work reduce out for him.
Noren tied for forty second final week at Mayakoba on a decent course reduce via the mangroves that requires extra precision than energy and an outstanding wedge sport. Memorial Park has much more beef, and Noren wasn’t certain what to anticipate out of his sport.
“Final week was like medium to quick course, numerous wedges that it’s important to get shut. Right here is longer, you have to hit fairways and you have to hit greens,” Noren mentioned. “So I used to be a little bit bit nervous coming into as we speak. Did not really feel nice in follow, however discovered one thing and bought the irons lots higher. Total, I might have taken 65.”
Clever ran off 4 straight birdies on the entrance 9 and performed bogey-free. His solely win on the PGA Tour thus far was the AT&T Byron Nelson within the Dallas space. Is one other title in Texas within the playing cards?
“It will be good,” Clever mentioned. “I do not wish to win them multi functional state, however I will take two in Texas.”
Memorial Park had loads of chunk. Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was 4 over via 10 holes within the morning when he salvaged a strong spherical with 4 birdies coming in for a 70. Scheffler can regain the No. 1 world rating with a win.
Sam Burns wasn’t so lucky. He had eight bogeys and 7 pars till making his first birdie on the par-5 sixteenth and ending with a 77.